The Gay Byrne Show

The Gay Byrne Show (previously The Gay Byrne Hour[1] and also known as The GB Show[2]) was an Irish radio programme, which ran from 1973 until 1998. The programme was presented by Gay Byrne, and aired Monday to Friday for two hours each day. It was a favourite of Irish housewives.[1] Before Byrne's retirement in 1998, he was helped by Gareth O'Callaghan (who left for RTÉ 2fm) and then Des Cahill.[3] Future Labour Party face Alex White edited the show for four years.[4]

The Gay Byrne Show
Other namesThe Gay Byrne Hour
GenreNews and current affairs
Running time2 hours
Country of originIreland
Home stationRTÉ Radio 1
TV adaptationsThe Late Late Show
Hosted byGay Byrne
Produced byJohn Caden
Recording studioDonnybrook, Dublin
Original release2 February 1973 – 24 December 1998


The Gay Byrne Hour began broadcasting on 2 February 1973.[5] It featured many Irish taboo subjects, with forums and discussions.[6]

In 1979, because of an extended air time, the programme was retitled The Gay Byrne Show.[5] The show's reporter was Joe Duffy. In 1976, Byrne won a Jacob's Award for his programme.[7] Duffy also won a Jacob's Award in 1992.[8]

In 1984, the show received letters in response to a report by Kevin O'Connor on the death of schoolgirl Ann Lovett from childbirth.[9] Byrne and two actors read on air stories of rape, abortion and sexual abuse.[9]

Christine Buckley was invited with her father onto the show in 1992 to discuss her experiences at St. Vincent's Industrial School, Goldenbridge, receiving what she later described as an "overwhelming response".[10]


Speculation that Byrne would leave his show began in January 1998.[11] In August of that year, a spokeswoman for the Director of Radio confirmed the show would end.[12]

On 16 December 1998, while presenting his programme in Studio 5, Mike Murphy interrupted the programme and escorted a surprised Byrne into Studio 1.[13] An audience of 150 celebrities and guests greeted Byrne. The then-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and President Mary McAleese were among the guests.[14]

The final show was broadcast on Grafton Street, on Christmas Eve (24 December) 1998.[13][15]

“The output of those involved was phenomenal, and utterly mad.”

Byrne on presenting his radio live.[16]

Byrne later spoke of his regret at not having retired from presenting the show five years earlier.[2] He also claimed that the craziest thing he had ever done was present the show live for so long.[16]


The influential show and the life of presenter was celebrated in the 2006 twenty-part book series Lives That Shaped the Nation, a collection by the Irish Independent which documented the lives of significant figures in Irish history.[17] Others featured in the series included Bono, Éamon de Valera, James Joyce, Patrick Pearse, Mary Robinson, Oscar Wilde and W. B. Yeats.[17]

Byrne commented in The Irish Times in 2010:


  1. "No Gay Byrne show in Kenmare". The Kerryman. 22 July 2009. Retrieved 28 July 2009.
  2. "Gay Byrne: I'm just sorry I didn't quit the show sooner". The Belfast Telegraph. 30 March 2009. Retrieved 28 July 2009.
  3. Power, Bairbre (10 August 1998). "Top of the bill year after year on the airwaves". Irish Independent. Retrieved 27 December 2017. Gareth O'Callaghan later did the job but left for 2FM after becoming disgruntled. Des Cahill co-chaired the show with Gay last season.
  4. "Alex White: Biography". Archived from the original on 5 February 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
  5. "Irish Public Service Broadcasting – 1970s". RTÉ Libraries and Archives. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  6. "End of era". Irish Independent. 10 August 1998. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  7. The Irish Times, "Critics honour 'Olives' and 'Riordans'", 16 May 1977
  8. The Irish Times, "Winners of radio and TV awards", 16 November 1992
  9. Gay Byrne (13 February 2010). "The chameleon of Montrose". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 13 February 2010. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
  10. Christine Buckley (19 May 2009). "A long journey in search of justice for victims of abuse". The Irish Times. Retrieved 12 December 2009. In 1992 Dad duly arrived and his old friend Gay Byrne invited both of us to tell our story on RTÉ Radio. Many might have thought that would be the end of it, with maybe a book, possibly titled Daughter Finds Parents, which would close with an almost fairytale ending as we could all live happily ever after. But thousands of others wanted help to undertake similar investigations and wrote and phoned Gay Byrne and me asking for our help. Their stories demonstrated how many children, several with the collusion of the judiciary, were incarcerated in industrial schools to undertake slave labour in order to swell the coffers of the religious congregations. [...] After the overwhelming response to the Gay Byrne radio interview, a senior member of the Mercy congregation apologised on the airwaves and agreed to meet me to discuss funding a counselling service for a handful of women who were with me in Goldenbridge. Alas, that promise was not realised.
  11. "Gay Byrne denies he is to quit radio show". The Irish Times. 1 January 1998. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  12. "Gay Byrne will quit radio show". The Irish Times. 8 August 1998. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  13. "Irish Public Service Broadcasting – 1990s". RTÉ Libraries and Archives. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  14. "Fans tune in to hear Byrne fade out". The Irish Times. 12 December 1998. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  15. "Gay gets Green light". Irish Independent. 24 December 1998. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  16. "Gay Byrne presents Sunday With Gay Byrne, Lyric fm". RTÉ Guide. 20 January 2009. Archived from the original on 11 February 2009. Retrieved 28 July 2009.
  17. "Lives that Shaped the Nation Book 10 – Gay Byrne with Deirdre Purcell". Irish Independent. 17 November 2006. Retrieved 28 July 2009.
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